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Aggressive drivers beware on Interstate 65

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By Stephen Thomas

SHEPHERDSVILLE - Recent efforts by Kentucky State Police to crack down on aggressive drivers have proven successful.

With assistance in grant funding from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), KSP announced its second grand face of the Ticketing Aggressive Cars and Trucks (TACT) campaign.

KSP officials announced increased patrol efforts along Interstate 65 during a press conference at the Welcome Center in Bullitt County.

FCMSA program manager Bradley Scalos said nearly 5,000 fatalities occurred on US highways in 2006. About 80 percent of those accidents involved a passenger vehicle and commercial truck.

Scalos said motorist education programs evolved into TACT, a high-visibility enforcement campaign.

The TACT plan was “a research based safety model” currently implemented in five other states, Scalos said.

TACT promoted outreach and education along with safe driving evaluations.

“Our initial data shows we are accomplishing a reduction (in accidents),” Scalos said.

With grant funding totaling over $2 million, the TACT campaign is now expanding along corridors of Interstates 65 and 75 in Kentucky. The targeted I-65 corridor ranges from Bullitt County to the Mammoth Cave area.

KSP Commissioner Rodney Brewer warned that 75 percent of the fatalities in accidents involving passenger vehicles and commercial trucks were in the passenger vehicles.

“Usually they’re going to come out on the short end,” he said.

Brewer said TACT officers would watch for drivers following too close to other vehicles, erratic driving, speeding and generally aggressive behavior.

“TACT is all about saving live,” said Brewer. “The program works. We’ve seen an incredible reduction in injury crashes. Overall there’s a slight reduction in fatality rates.”

Brewer said the new TACT campaigns would last over 12 months. He assured the campaign focused on aggressive commercial truck drivers as much as passenger vehicles. He mentioned that driving violations would be enforced for all drivers.

Joining the officials was Richard Alford, a professional truck driver with ABF Freight System and a member of Kentucky’s Road Team. With over 2.7 million accident free miles driven, Alford is a former Kentucky Driver of the Year winner.

As a member of Kentucky’s Road Team Alford promotes safety among truck drivers as well as education and awareness for all drivers.

“I want to share these roads with everybody,” he said. “We want to prevent these accidents and save more lives.”

Alford stressed the four blind spots commercial truckers experience while driving, the largest being a length of 33 feet on the trailer’s passenger side.

Alford suggested passing a trailer only on the driver’s side, and to pass quickly to avoid lingering in a blind spot.

The most dangerous thing passenger drivers could do was ride close to the back of a trailer. He said some drivers try to ‘draft’ off of trucks to save on gas mileage.

“If you can’t see the truck’s (driver side) mirror, then that driver can’t see you,” said Alford. He suggested keeping a distance of 20 to 25 car lengths in between to allow stop time if necessary.

When passing a commercial truck, Alford suggested always waiting to see both of the truck’s headlights in the rearview mirror before pulling in front of it.

“The most dangerous area is right in front of the truck,” he said. “That driver can’t see you there.”

Alford added that the average truck on a highway would take the length of a football field to completely stop the vehicle.

“Let’s leave more space and save more lives,” said Alford. “I want to get home safely to my family, and I want you to get home safely as well.”